Capitalism has consumed us all. It is the reason you have a million tabs open in your brain, on your computer, on your phone - it is because we have been conditioned to believe that if we are not doing something at every waking moment, we are ultimately not doing enough. Folded into that is the development of social media over the last decade, every day is a timeline full of things reminding you that you need an espresso shot and a day jam-packed with to-do list duties.
I personally do believe in full diaries and constant growth. Most weeks, if not every week, I ensure I am engaged with something that will teach me something new or help my future self. Today, however, as I sat at home & did pretty much nothing for the first time in such a long while, I realized how uncomfortable this made me. Ironically enough, this is the very reason I am writing this post. In my uncomfortable stillness, I literally thought "well, the least I could do today is do some writing" I simply couldn't just let a day go to waste. It was uncomfortable feeling uncomfortable and I sat & thought about how overtaxing the continual need to flourish can actually be.
If you're anything like me, you probably spend a great deal of time making lists and goals and eventually ticking things off & then adding more things on. And repeat. There are many great things that can come from being this person however eventual burnout is on the horizon if you don't ever give yourself a moment to just replenish and recuperate.
Here are 5 signs you (& I) should probably chill out a bit more :
You truly believe having some "time out" could be detrimental to everything you have built. Without stating the obvious, taking an extended time out from a project/goal could potentially have adverse effects on it. In reality, taking a one week break to focus on yourself without having to think about work isn't going to ruin everything you have worked so hard to build. If you are doing things just for the sake of not feeling like you're doing enough, it's probably best you grabbed a cup of tea and had a moment to unpack this irrational fear.
Your thoughts are foggy. Have you ever just been unable to think straight? As in, it's straight enough to put together a report but not straight enough to realize you're squeezing ketchup on your bowl of cereal. Movies have romanticized the idea of being in your twenties and thirties and being so busy that you have to remind yourself to eat or breathe. The scene of a woman rapidly walking through an office while her timid assistant hands her a coffee that she is too busy to ever drink is something most of us have weirdly craved and aspired to at some point. In our formative years, a large cluster of us have had the idea of being extremely busy equating to success embedded into us and that is the foundation of this all. In saying that, once your brain is so exhausted you no longer think straight about the crucial parts of your livelihood, are you not then undoing all the greatness you have built?
No achievement is ever enough. Doing a lot is great but what you'll find is you may become so addicted to doing "stuff" that you'll have a long list of unfinished projects or worse, you achieve so much that all you want to do when you finally achieve a goal is create a new one. Bouncing from goal to goal with not a moment to reboot may seem like a great idea initially but sooner or later the power you give to these external things will start to become tormenting. You'll most likely be a control freak, harnessing every moment of your life with a tight leash and you may have gotten to the point where you have a long list of achievements however every achievement is pretty much unrelated to the last because you're collecting achievements rather than building a life?
You are no longer enjoying the graft. Yes, working hard is meant to be challenging. However, it is not meant to make you feel like you are suffering. You are not meant to feel like a walking, talking zombie. If you wake up in the mornings and the first thought in your head is "God" or anything along those lines, maybe you aren't giving your life the things it deserves. Perhaps the very things you are doing do not serve you and this is why they feel like such a daunting task. Don't get me wrong, hard work will feel pressurizing and overwhelming sometimes but it should never feel like a long term weight on your life. If you are no longer enjoying your graft but also not giving yourself time away from that graft, how will you ever be able to reroute to the right place?
You do things to keep up appearances. In this new age of constant access to achievement showreels of your peers, it is easy to feel like you are behind and need to up your ante. I wholeheartedly do believe we need to dedicate ample time to the things we want to achieve, that is a given. In saying that, I think it's crucial to decipher what is a personal goal and what is a goal that is influenced by the dozens of carefully curated social media accounts you encounter every day? The small print of social media usage is that you are to post the highlights of your life so you will undoubtedly scroll through a Ph.D. graduation, a new job, a business opening and a new mother with a 1 month postpartum snap back & this will all be before your 11am coffee - it is the reality of being a social media user. I've had times where I've seen a great body online and then it's forced me to get up and go to my pre-booked 9am spin class, this type of influence is fantastic! Contrastingly, there have bee moments in which I've seen a post that is totally unrelated to anything I had planned to do or even have any interest in, and subconsciously, I then add this activity into my list of things to do. Before you know it, you're spending a morning being inspired to do everything and anything and not actually doing the very things that you really, really want to do.
I am no expert in managing time and social commitments but I am pretty tuned in to the spiral of the rat race that us millennials are currently in. It's a tough choice knowing when you need to take a break and when you are simply not doing enough to satisfy your goals but I do truly believe we have a sixth sense as humans & when you know, you just know.
Listen to your energy and take a break when it is time to take a break. Be easy on yourself and take time to figure stuff out. I am not championing idleness, I am simply encouraging you to utilize your energy efficiently enough that you are able to achieve all the important things that matter most to you whilst keeping your health intact.
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